California Educator

October 09

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Fremont members hold town hall meeting is more powerful when it includes organizing their entire community around understanding the impact of massive budget cuts. Caught up in the same trou- T bles caused by state education cuts that have hurt school dis- tricts in the Bay Area and across the state, Fremont Uni- fied School District teachers organized a town hall meeting in September to warn their community about the impacts from $20 million in cuts this school year. Their answer? A possible parcel tax rescue option in 2010. Teachers in Sacramento and Riverside counties were also planning to hold town hall meetings this fall to make the public school cuts real to local media and parents. “This crisis isn’t about something our school board did — it’s about the billions of dollars in education cuts made by the Legislature this year,” says Brannin Dorsey, president of the 1,800-member Fremont Unified District Teachers As- sociation. “The loss of our smaller class sizes alone is di- sastrous for our students and teachers. The town hall meet- ing was about protecting qual- ity schools in Fremont for years to come.” Educators in the 32,000-stu- dent district are part of the eachers in Fremont and around the state are learn- ing that union organizing Fremont Education Coalition of educators, administrators, school board members and parents working together to find ways to make ends meet during this difficult school year. Cuts forced all school em- ployees to take furloughs that equal a pay cut of 2.67 percent this year, and most kindergar- ten class sizes soared from 20 to 30 students. School library and counselor staf fs were slashed, as was prep time for elementary teachers. In addition to discussing the parcel tax during the meet- ing, teachers pressed for an end to the requirement that a two-thirds vote of the Legisla- ture is needed to pass a state budget — and called for a re- peal of tax breaks given to cor- porations this year by lawmak- ers. Besides Dorsey, the Fre- mont Education Coalition speakers included Milt Wer- ner, Fremont Unified superin- tendent; Larry Sweeney, school board member; and Susan Na- than, Fremont Council PTA president. The moderator was former school board member Nina Moore, who works for the Chamber of Commerce. Near- ly 100 parents showed up in the gymnasium at Centerville Junior High to ask questions. “We must stick together if we want to successfully ride this out,” Dorsey told the audi- ence in her opening remarks. “We must all take some control and responsibility for the qual- above: Brannin Dorsey, president of the Fremont Unified District Teachers Association (right), and Milt Werner, Fremont Unified superintendent, address the town hall crowd. ity of education in Fremont.” By working to help the schools with a parcel tax, the community is investing in its kids, she said. “The children in California do not have a voice. We, the parents and commu- nity, need to speak up for our children. We need to tell the leaders in Sacramento that Continued on page 35 Schedule a Stand Up for Schools event • • Sacramento Nov. 12, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Riverbank Elementary, 1100 Carrie St., West Sacramento. Parents, administrators, legislators, and community members will be invited to join teachers for a frank discussion about why school cuts will prevent this year from being business as usual. Palm Springs Nov. 4, 6 p.m. Cathedral City Public Library, 33520 Date Palm Drive, Cathedral City Palm Springs Teachers Association is also holding a town hall stressing soaring class sizes and other classroom cuts in Palm Springs Unified. Bev Bricker, Palm Springs Teachers Association president will host the event with Cathedral City Mayor Kathy DeRosa. • Riverside County At press time, Riverside County members were planning a town hall session on local school cuts. Leading the effort is the local CTA leaders’ Coalition of Riverside Presidents. The president of the group is Bev Bricker, who is also president of the Palm Springs Teachers Association. Host your own Stand Up for Schools event or town hall. Find out how at www. october 2009 | 29 CTA photo by Mike Myslinski

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